Marx Sisters

SAHM vs. WOOTHM
Marx Sisters by Elizabeth at Startling the Day
The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I have the typical, boring opinion on the question of “Should moms stay at home or work outside of the home?” Just like some women are called to a single vocation, some are called to the religious life, and some are called to married life, I believe we are called to contribute to our families in different ways.

Of course, I still believe we are biologically better-equipped for some duties within a marital household, namely those related to bearing and raising children, but men have a great importance in that area as well.

La dee dah, see? Boring and very politically correct.

So let’s talk about Marxist Feminist theory instead.

Bigger, more skirt, please.

I’ve watched six episodes of “My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding” in the last two weeks. These people fascinate me and before I write you a dissertation about them, I’ll to focus on their strict adherence to traditional family roles. Women marry quite young, some as young as sixteen, and enter a life similar to every “traveller” wife: one centered on taking care of the husband, cooking, child-rearing, and extensive cleaning.

Seriously, these women put sponge to every surface of their homes, everyday. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Their husbands earn the money, have a lot of fun at pubs, and, in their words, “own” their wives. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and anthropologically point out that we do not have a full understanding of their culture in order to call this regressive or stunted. It’s vital we also point out how extremely rare divorce is in their culture.

Marxist Feminist theory feels responsible for sticking up for women after centuries of what its troubadours believe to be wrongful oppression based on societal structure (rather than any relation to biology). This theory holds that a patriarchal, capitalist society demeans women because it enslaves them in the home to perform duties for free that men would otherwise have to hire employees to complete.

Old-timey headache

Marxist Feminists believe women are not properly compensated for the traditional roles they hold, so its supporters believe that as many inequalities between men and women should be flattened out as possible. In other words, it seems these theorists would be at least partially happy to see women receive salaries from their husbands, appropriate for the work they do in the home.

Call me crazy, but that sounds like capitalism more than Marxism.

Here, Marxists try to explain, in capitalist vocabulary, their belief that a lower value is placed on a woman’s day than a man’s and the translation is muddled.

The lasting issue with this theory is that it discourages women from entering a lifestyle Marxist Feminists define as the poorly-valued role, a stay at home mother. Marxist Feminist theory states that, no, it was the  patriarchal, capitalist society that shaped the role to be lower.

However, because the Marxist theory presents no alternative, they shame women away from being stay at home mothers, lest these women accept a shameful label of settling for a regressive lifestyle.

If a card-carrying Marxist Feminist could get their hands on one of these gypsy girls before walking down the aisle in her teens, he or she would try to convince the bride that her life can have more meaning in the eyes of the men of this world. If she could just NOT perform the slave duties thrust upon her as a wife and stay at home, cleaning, cooking mother, she could be much happier and more highly-valued.

Apart from the point that some of these women really do want to live their vocation in the traditional way, perhaps the young bride would have sense enough to point out the unspoken enslavement of the crazed person trying to shake her into the 21st century.

If you’re doing something to spite someone else or to be seen as more valuable in the eyes of a society, who’s the real slave?

OMG[osh], What did she say?!

The Bright Maidens are back and this time we’re talking about … SEX. We discuss sex, virginity, recycled virginity, women, the value of sexuality the value of being a child of God and a brother and sister in Christ, and TOB in terms of respecting life and pro-life issues.

I haven’t listened to this week’s Among Women podcast all the way through yet, so I’m a little nervous about what Pat Gohn edited in and out. Our conversation for Part 2 was about an hour long, but it’s much shorter in the podcast version.

I’m more than a little nervous.

UPDATE: “It’s really hard out there. It’s really hard. To be a virgin in the 21st century takes heroic courage. It takes the grace of a saint to live the life that we’re talking about here.” –Pat Gohn

Let me know what you think!! LISTEN HERE. Our part of the interview is about one-third of the way through the podcast.

Bright Maidens on Among Women, Part 1



Friends, the Bright Maidens have an exciting announcement! The lovely Pat Gohn of Among Women kindly invited the three Bright Maidens (Julie, Trista, and Elizabeth) to sit down with her for the podcast!

As you may know, St. Hildegard of Bingen is the Bright Maidens patron saint, so Pat Gohn shares a great deal of wonderful insight on this powerful saint!

We had so much to discuss that we will be in TWO (count ’em: one, two) podcasts. We get into girl talk, a few points that we believe affect young Catholic women today, and a few… surprises. Check it out! Here is the first installment.

Combining Gilbert and Wentworth

*1*
Yes, I’m cheating by doing this in Quick Takes form… a week after the topic was published.
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This topic was meant to be a light one, just in time for Valentine’s Day, because no matter your vocation or marital status, there have been and always will be literary men in your life. As Liesl explained in her literary crush piece, “Excuse me while I swoon:” 

I think one of the things I have learned most from my literary crushes is not that they have shaped my heart, but that they show me what is already imprinted on my heart.

We are who God created us to be when He first knew us, before He formed us in the womb (Jeremiah 1:5). We are His children, at our core, no matter what additional outer layers we allow others or the world to attach to us.

*2*
When you KNEW you could fly

My college art show focused on a related phenomenon: the concept of memory and how your life changes and experiences change your perspective on memories.

For instance, Anne of Green Gables was one of my first chapter books. Therefore, my perspective as a 5 or 6-year-old reading about Anne’s contentious relationship with Gilbert Blythe was simplified. I might have picked up on their undertones, but I certainly didn’t analyze it and try to apply my results to my own life like I did as a teen.

My perspective as a happy, confident, and in-Love 24-year-old reading this classic is less analytical and involves far more guffaws at some of my previously similar behaviors. Oh Anne, you’re almost as clueless as I was a few years ago!

I can only imagine that I will revisit my 24-year-old perspective as an older woman and share a few more guffaws with and at myself. It’s a cycle, folks, so embrace it!

*3*

Say a prayer that everyone may shed the extra layers

This whole concept rests on the notion that we are who God created us to be at our core. My favorite quick quote is JP2’s “Family, become what you are.” As Catholic Christians, we believe God created our souls and and gave them a home in our bodies.

Our souls should come first in the health pecking order, but many times we feed our body and our pleasures first.

Throughout our lives, we pack on outer layers of junk. I know I formed some weird habits during my tween to teen years. We all add habits and mannerisms to ourselves in order to fit in or do what we think will be best for us. Unfortunately, this is often only “best” for us in our pleasure-seeking short term.

Praise God, we’re still US at our core. Through discernment, prayer, the will of God, and sometimes an Ah-Ha moment, we can shed these outer layers and reveal who we were created to be.

*4*

This inner person, the core, is the one with whom others fall in Love! This is who Gilbert noticed about Anne, not her red hair or temper. I believe he fell for the passion that motivated the temper.

Captain Wentworth tried his best to forget about his Anne, the one who broke his heart. He thought he healed from the romance bruise, but as soon as he saw her again, seven years later, and noticed her resolve, clear-headedness, and strength, he shed the blinders.

JulieLiesl, and Sarah mentioned these fine fellows, and rightly so. I used to think that I Loved Gilbert because he was just a nice, intelligent country boy who is part of an example of an iconic Love story. I once thought I swooned over Capt. Wentworth because he secretly pined over Anne and then wrote a beautiful letter to make his affection known.

It’s both more complex and more simple than that: they Loved their Annes to their core and recognized the lovable qualities buried deep in them. Once more, swoon with me. This is why they are so swoon-worthy. Gilbert embraced Anne’s Anne-ness from the beginning and Capt. Wentworth couldn’t fall out of Love with his Anne, even after years and distance.

These are the men we want, ladies. Go find them.

To the brave

March for Life Reflection
“To the Brave” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

This one goes out to the brave. Thank you, women in mourning, who consistently share with us your heartbreaking stories of decades of pain.

Thank you for opening wounds with us that took years to acknowledge, let alone to heal.

This year I spent the March for Life doing what most of my fellow defenders of the sanctity of human life were doing: trudging through another work day, wishing I was marching among my brothers and sisters.

God knows I’m grateful for my job and that many who are not as fortunate as I am were homebound on Monday as well. I just wish I could have joined the voices and the media-slighted crowd.

Two years ago I was here in DC for an internship on the day of the march. I awoke with my normal routine, begrudgingly aware that I couldn’t pound the pavement with the pro-life strangers, and walked toward the Metro station. I boarded a train bursting with the normal commuters, briefcases and cell phone chimes.

But when I exited for my stop, I noticed one woman carrying a sign as she de-trained with me. She was the only marcher in our train car and her sign was far too big to conceal.

She carried this sign

I don’t know if she was one of the women behind the micro or megaphones that day, with thousands of voices to support her in sharing her story, but here she was in the middle of a DC commuter’s morning, witnessing without the rest of the choir.

I can’t imagine the pain of cooping with a decision to abort a child and I certainly can’t imagine the kind of retribution she could have faced in risking to carry that sign as she traveled alone. That morning, I wanted to give a stranger a hug and to thank her.

When I returned home from my internship in DC, I started volunteering for Rachel’s Vineyard. I encourage everyone to visit their website, inquire with your diocese about opportunities in your area, to donate (if you feel so called), and to volunteer.

You don’t have to be one of the counselors in the room to give aid to the effort to provide a safe environment for post-abortive fathers and mothers. You can offer up the tedious but necessary jobs like cooking, setting up, and cleaning up.

The pro-life movement needs to be an activist movement for healing as well as a forward movement for saving lives. Consider helping with this wing!

Revealing

Sexy vs. Desirable
Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

I own a dozen cardigans.

My fashion sense has remained unrefined throughout my life, but it has wiggled in and out of levels of modesty.

Let’s face it, my mother dressed me for the first ten years. In fifth grade, I struck out for the sake of independence and wore a lot of vests. In high school, I wore a uniform during the day and a swimsuit in the afternoon at practice.

At the beginning of college, I wore a lot of t-shirts and exercise bottoms to class and to the movies with my sober friends. After I began partying, on “going out nights,” I wore more revealing, tighter clothing.

“Don’t show them everything you’ve got. Leave some for the imagination,” my late grandmother would preach to her granddaughters.

There’s some irony here. No, my belly button isn’t pierced.

When my sisters, cousins, or I wore a shirt cut too low, my 5’2″ grandmother would pace over to us, poke her finger down any cleavage, and chirp, “Woooop!” If this happens, she said, it was time to rethink the clothing choice.

My spunky, slightly inappropriate grandmother wanted others to see her granddaughters for who they are first, not for their packaging.

My woooop-worthy wardrobe progressed like this until I got tired of partying, stopped going out often, and started wearing “adult” clothing to class.

To me, this meant unnecessary layers of drooping fabric, no matter how unflattering. Vague cardigans became my staple.

They say when the economy starts to tank, it takes the skirts down with it. When the economy recovers, mini skirts are all the rage. My clothing choices mirrored my emotional economy directly.

I wanted to become entirely undesirable and unsexy so as not to accidentally use my body for attention.

Rather than placing my worth on my body by revealing more of it, I overcorrected and placed my worth on my body by excessively covering it up. It was a form of punishment for my past by lowering the confidence of my present self.

My earlier begging of “look at me” switched tracks to “look away from me.”

As we explored with “The Dress” and “The Interior” posts, God didn’t give women gifts unique to our femininity to be ashamed of them. We mustn’t disparage the gifts God gave us as dirty and lust-inciting. We are women for a reason and those of us who are called to marriage were made with our husbands in mind.

There is always going to be someone who finds something desirable about you. There is always going to be a characteristic that someone is going to find sexy or desirable. It could be the way you wear your neckline down to your belly button, or it could be the way your glasses flatter your face.

Desirability and sexiness overlap; the distinction is respect for person.

The trick is to avoid letting what you put on your body distract others from your feminine genius. It is also important to avoid letting your clothing distract you from your own feminine genius.

When you’re staring at your closet, err on the side of classy rather than sexy. Think refined instead of revealing. Flatter your feminine genius without thinking it resides in your body.

Wooop.

She reigns

Feminine Genius: The Interior
“She reigns” by Elizabeth at Startling the Day

The “Bright Maidens” were originally three from the oft-mentioned, widely-speculated upon demographic of young, twenty-something Catholic women. Now, we all take up the cross to dispel the myths and misconceptions. Welcome!

The original Bright Maidens chose this topic to follow last month’s topic (Feminine Genius: The Dress) because of the unexpected blow-up in [uncharitable] comments on Julie’s blog post. We happen to think some of those who commented were misunderstanding her post’s objective, but in an effort to “listen first to understand, then to be understood,” we want to explain our full understanding of the Feminine Genius.

“You ain’t all that, honey, and all the dresses in the world aren’t going to fix what’s wrong with you.” 
-Anonymous Commenter 2

I still laugh when I reread the comments on Julie’s last Bright Maidens post. This offending concluding sentence came at the end of a ramble about good tailoring, an insult to Julie’s friend’s wardrobe choice, and more random explanations about what makes a woman look her best.

Our Patron

The consensus is this commenter was a female. Comments like the above quote prove that she missed the boat on how to make a woman appear in the best light, ie, not eternally insulting and provocative.

We’re all called to serve in Christ’s mission. Our mission is to serve for His mission.

Some have God-given musical talents or use humor to serve Him, while others must assume a role through sportsmanship or writing. We use what He gave us, including the gifts of our femininity and masculinity, depending on our sex. The roles of men and women are simply different, not one better or worse than the other.

One major hang up for non-Catholic onlookers (and for some within the Church), is the concept of the woman in the body of the Church. I’ve heard the lament many times that the Church doesn’t treat women well, the stand out reasoning stemming from the ordination of male-only priests.

Have they forgotten our reverence for the Holy Mother of God? Have they forgotten that we refer to the Church as a female body?

Christ died for the Church, just as men “die” (either literally or figuratively) for those they are called to protect. This doesn’t mean a man is greater just because he is the same sex as Jesus. It means we have different roles with different service opportunities.

As Bl. John Paul II once wrote, God entrusts people to each and every other person. However, the woman is entrusted with the ability to bear human beings “precisely by reason of their femininity” in a special way.

He went on to explain that the “feminine genius” is the effect of the strength drawn from this awareness and this entrusting. It has been this way since the beginning of time, throughout the Old Testament, especially during the Annunciation, and continues today.

“A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God ‘entrusts the human being to her’, always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them ‘strong’ and strengthens their vocation.” -Bl. John Paul II, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year”

The genius of femininity does not take away from the masculine genius anymore than the masculine genius strips power from the feminine genius. The two work in tandem, ideally filling the roles we human beings can possibly fill on Earth. The power is God’s.

Let’s look at the feminine genius of three very different women in my life: My mother, my confirmation sponsor, and my cousin.

For more by Elaine Golden, visit her site!

My mother utilized the gift of her fertility to bring three daughters into the world, furthering her own genius as well as bringing more of it to light! She constantly serves us, especially in her sacrifice with her job, which she has held for more than twenty years.

Her avocation was to provide for her family and she sacrificed some of her career happiness for us in that regard. On top of that, she offers each of us tailored emotional support and counsel.

My confirmation sponsor has been a family friend and true role model for me all of my life. My sisters and I are her spiritually adopted children, whom she serves with deep love and devotion, for whatever purpose we may need.

This woman is the one who cleans up the table when she’s a guest at your house, but will wrestle you to the ground to prevent you from doing the same at her house. She is a humble servant of God through the sacrifices she makes for others.

My cousin is only a few weeks younger than me and, likewise, is unmarried. When my grandmother died in April, she was at the starting gate with a tray of sandwich meats in one hand and a hug waiting on the other arm.

She didn’t share blood with my grandmother, but she had grown up with her always present at family events. Her selflessness, helpfulness, sacrifice, and servitude for us during that grieving period was poignantly impressive and a true show of her love for God through us.

As I mentioned in my “Month of the Dress” post, it doesn’t matter how feminine we look, whether or not we have borne children, or how good we look doing it. Our “dress” is our service.

It’s the consolation of a friend in a time when words won’t do the trick. It’s the casserole we made when our co-worker loses a family member. It’s the laughter we share in with those we love.

It’s the glance we posses as we look at the man we love in a way that communicates to him how important he is to our life. It’s the softness of our skin when we sit in a nursing home, 40 years beyond the hustle of motherhood.

Through Mary’s example, let us pray that we women gain the strength to recognize that which God has entrusted in us.

“For her, ‘to reign’ is to serve! Her service is ‘to reign’!” – Bl. John Paul II about Our Mother Mary in Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women.